Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm Thankful that Mercy is not for Pansies...

Luke 1:50
He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.

Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

A few weeks ago I attended my brother's church in Philly: Circle of Hope.  He spoke about the topic of mercy that day, and God has been bringing it to my mind ever since.   

What's the difference between grace and mercy someone might ask?  In my mind, grace is being given what we do not deserve, while mercy is being spared what we did deserve.  So many times in the Christian life we focus on what we have been given, but sacrifice the awareness of what we have been spared.

I've been camping out on these thoughts the past few weeks.  One of my favorite illustrations that my brother referred to was looking at the game of Mercy.  I'm sure we've all played it at one point or another as children.  Wikipedia defines it as this:

Two players face each other, holding their opponent's hands...On the word "go", each player attempts to bend back their opponent's hand and inflict pain by straining their wrist. When a player can no longer stand the pain they declare defeat by shouting "Mercy!"
The very fact that a game such as this was named "Mercy", reflects that we have an incredibly skewed idea of what it really means to be shown mercy.  The truth of the matter is the idea of Mercy is seen as something undesirable.  It's for the fragile and the weak, the those who can't handle the pain anymore.  Asking for mercy is taking a step down into the dark abode of shame and confessing that we don't have what it takes because at the end of the day, Mercy is for pansies.  

And sadly, for so many of us, we have taken that view of mercy into our own spirituality and allowed it to effect our relationship with God.  If mercy is for the weak, then who really wants it? 

It's time that we redefine what it really means to receive mercy.  

I think one of the reasons so many of us have a hard time really appreciating mercy is the fact that we really forget where we have come from.  Just like the parable of the man who was pardoned a huge debt and immediately went and tortured someone who owed him just a little bit.  He forgot where he had come from, and the mercy that had been granted him.  It makes me wonder if he ever REALLY accepted the mercy that was granted to him...because he walked away, and failed to live it out.  True mercy breeds mercy. 

For you see, it may take strength to show mercy....but it takes wisdom to accept it.  It takes a wise man to understand his need to be pardoned and make the choice to walk into that undeserved reward.  And for those who will take that risk, it will inevitably transform every part of who they are.

Mercy is not for's for wise men.  It's for those who understand the miserable place that they were, and recognize the love of a God who chose to bring them into something greater.  Those who see the utter despair that God has pardoned them, and seek to live a life that pardons those around them. 

Today, I am thankful for Mercy.  I am reminded every so clearly of where I have come from and where I should have been...but here I am today.  Thank you Lord for your unrelenting mercy, give me the wisdom and the strength to live in such a way. Have mercy on me again, and again, and again. 

*What has God pardoned in your life?  Where might you have been otherwise?  Thank Him for his mercies today. 

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